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1996: U.S. Congress passes federal Defense of Marriage Act — DOMA — defining marriage in federal law as a union of one man and one woman. Federal DOMA allows individual states to legalize gay marriage, but says federal government would not recognize such unions, nor must states opposed to them. Law also allows states to refuse to honor same-sex marriage performed in another state.
1998: Washington's Legislature passes a Defense of Marriage Act banning same-sex marriage.
March 2004:Eight gay and lesbian couples sue King County over right to marry (Andersen v. Sims)
April 2004:Eleven gay and lesbian couples sue state of Washington over right to marry (Castle v. Washington)
July 2004:King County Superior Court Judge William Downing hears arguments in case against county.
August 2004:Downing rules that denying gays the right to marry amounts to a denial of due process; finds DOMA unconstitutional
September 2004:Thursday County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks hears arguments in case against state; rules within days that gays are part of "protected class" and may not be denied same right granted others; finds DOMA unconstitutional.
March 2005:Supreme Court hears arguments in cases, which have been consolidated into single case.
July 26, 2006:Supreme Court releases its ruling.
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